Revenge – not repeat – as Richard Riakporhe loses WBO world cruiserweight title shot

Richard Riakporhe suffered a first professional loss as he failed to take the WBO world cruiserweight title off champion Chris Billam-Smith at Selhurst Park on Saturday night.

The Walworth challenger was looking for a repeat outcome of the pair’s 2019 meeting when he prevailed with a split decision points victory at Greenwich’s 02 Arena.

South London once again hosted the meeting but this time there was a different result as Billam-Smith was awarded a unanimous decision.

Riakporhe was warned multiple times by referee Steve Gray for transgressions with his head and was finally deducted a point by the official in the final round.

Billam-Smith won by scores of 116-111 and 115-112 (twice).

Riakporhe was not able to match the activity of the Bournemouth fighter in a scrappy contest which too often saw the pair tied up in a clinch. Gray asked them more than once to tidy up their work but it failed to materialise.

The challenger did land some of his booming right hands but usually it was met by return fire, normally in a cluster by Billam-Smith.

The final bell told the story. Riakporhe did not react while Billam-Smith leapt up into one of the corners of the ring and then was lifted off the canvas by his coaching team in celebratory scenes.

Riakporhe’s record drops to 17-1 (13KOs).

It could well be that a move to heavyweight is next. At the age of 34, he still has time on his side to achieve his dream of becoming a world champion. Now it is time to see how he reacts to a significant setback.


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